Don’t Cry Over Spilled Karma

So, here is the order of events:  I stopped at the ATM yesterday to have some cash on hand to tip my massage therapist.  Because the ATM only spews out twenties, and because I don’t want to set a $20 tip precedent with the aforementioned therapist, I stopped at a convenience store to get a Coke and thus break a twenty.

In front of the convenience store was a man in fatigues sitting at a table collecting money for The Wounded Warrior Project.  Now, I’m all for taking care of returning veterans.  I think we should provide medical care and housing assistance and education and just about any need for those who are willing to put their lives on the line for the pittance we pay them to do that.  But, I have a natural resistance to people asking for money at the entrance to stores.  It’s such a deeply seated antipathy for me that I’m not even fond of the Girl Scouts when they do that.  Yeah, I know.  I’m a jerk.

Getting accosted as I’m entering or leaving a store is just something I don’t like.  It’s bad enough that the WalMart greeters make me feel like a criminal when they eye my cart as I’m leaving the store.  Having my social conscience mauled by the cause of the week takes me over the edge.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am generally a quite generous person.  Even if I’m irritated by the spoken or even silent request, I usually give something.  The non-politically-charged issues are easiest.  Children raising money for new Little League uniforms?  Absolutely.  Salvation Army bell ringers during the holidays?  Hmmm . . . no, I almost never give to religious organizations as most of them have judgments I find unspiritual.  Homeless person on the side of the road?  Sure, most of the time, if I have some cash on hand.

Two bucks.  That’s my standard.  If someone needs it, and I feel good about giving it, then I’ll pull out two bucks and wish them well.

When I entered the convenience store, I only had twenties, of course.  I nodded at the gentleman and mumbled something about needing to get change.  By the time I got my Coke and paid, I had actually forgotten all about his presence, so I was taken a bit off guard when I saw him again.  I almost walked past, but then I stopped and turned around and reached for my wallet.  As I fumbled for two bucks, I had a nice little chat with the gentleman.  He told me about Wounded Warriors and mentioned some of the celebrities involved.  He said that Bill O’Reilly talks about it all the time.  I said that I didn’t care for Bill O’Reilly, but I would give some anyway and smiled.  He backed away from the statement and claimed he didn’t actually watch Bill O’Reilly, but he had just heard that.  I put my money in the jar and wished him well.

I had a few minutes to kill before my massage was to begin, so I stopped in the bookstore.  I had taken $40 out of the ATM, so had the cash available when I found yet another book I just couldn’t live without and probably wouldn’t actually read.  I opened my wallet to pay for the book.  There were a few ones and the ten for my massage tip.  I riffled through the bills for a few seconds and then it dawned on me.  I had mistakenly put a one and a twenty into the donation jar for the Wounded Warriors.

For a brief moment, I had that sinking feeling you get when you don’t have money you thought you had.  I went through a brief analysis of how to retrieve the money and reached a conclusion within about 2.3 seconds that it was simply gone.  I had donated $21 to the Wounded Warrior Project in spite of myself.

As I laid on the massage table a bit later, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I actually had two legs which could be rubbed and manipulated and pounded into relaxed muscular submission.  And two arms.  And a fully functioning body, even as much as I took it for granted.  I thought about those returning wounded veterans, many of whom could probably benefit from a therapeutic massage, and all of whom gave a precious part of themselves in service to our nation.

As I lay on the massage table, I fully released my internal grip on that twenty.  By the time Kevin patted my shoulder and said, “We’re done; I’ll be waiting for you outside,” my only regret was that I hadn’t given the twenty deliberately.

I left the ten in the tip envelope for Kevin, scheduled my next massage, and walked out into a bright, breezy day with a relaxed body, an empty wallet, and a full heart.  As non-religious as I am, I couldn’t help but think of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “It is in giving that we receive.”  It is how we become instruments of peace in a warring world.

Livin’ the Good Life

I was half-watching Antiques Roadshow earlier tonight on NPT while puttering around in the kitchen, and some woman had a vintage guitar handed down from her uncle or some such.  This instrument had been stored under her bed for years on end, or at least that’s the story I half-heard, but it makes for good drama so I’m sticking with it.  Anyway, this under-appreciated piece of hand-me-down family treasure was appraised at a value of $35,000.

I have a guitar.  I actually got on the Internet to see what it might be worth.  It IS almost 20 years old, after all.  From what I can gather, I might be able to get a cool $200 for my little gem.

A couple of days ago, Oprah began her now-live Friday show by focusing on the fires around L.A.  Her major motivation at that point was the fact that the night before it had roared up (or down) the mountain whereon is located her home and the homes of her very wealthy neighbors, among whom are film director Ivan Reitman and actor Rob Lowe.  Oprah wasn’t crass enough to show a picture of her own house, but I saw an aerial view of it on a news program later this weekend, and I can’t even begin to describe the mansion monstrosity that is Oprah’s (second? twelfth?) home.

Susie’s mom told her on the phone today that she has just purchased season tickets for the Nashville Opera next year, which sounds heavenly to me, and though it doesn’t seem to touch the stories above, they’re all pretty much the same to me right now.   All equally out of reach.

Earlier this afternoon, I finished the chicken coop so next spring we can have chickens, and eggs will be one less item on our shopping list in the future.  The thermostat is set at 69 instead of our previously spoiled winter level of 72 because . . . it really does make a difference in the bill.   And even with the Prius, we are consciously combining trips and avoiding drives that are not necessary.

This long ramble about money and how comparatively little of it I have must only end this way.  I have a job (two, in fact) that almost guaranteed will not go away.  I have a home I love and a yard I love even more.  I’m not hungry.  I have four dogs who show me immense love.  I have a partner I adore and who makes any place she is home for me.   I have family and friends who are second to none.  I have two sisters who are just freakin’ wonderful.   I have more to be grateful for than most people in the world.

Oh, and I have a guitar. . . which is worth a hell of a lot more than $200 to me.

And I have a house that is not burnt to the ground, no matter how modest it is.

And I really prefer the symphony to opera.

Damn, life is good.


I believe that everything is energy.  I’m energy.  You’re energy.  The attitude we have is energy.  Those fancy-ass quantum physicists would even say that we are energy living within a field of energy.  There is nothing that is not energy.

This means also that our money is energy.  I’ve heard it, read it, and, yes, believe it.  You can best determine a person’s priorities by how she spends her money.  I’ve seen first hand how my relationship to money shifts when I can think of it in terms of energy.  And it helps to explain my position on economics (yes, I have one).

As a nation, where we put our financial energy has a huge impact on our society’s financial wellness.  The pencil pushers and Reaganomics fans would say we should deregulate and reduce the size of government and, for god’s sake, reduce those entitlement programs because all of that adds up on paper to fiscal responsibility.  The focus of our financial energy has been on helping the rich and hoping somehow that will help the poor, and the latter group is beginning to include a growing number of former middle class folks.  More importantly, our focus has been on war.  Our financial energy has been focused on combat and rich folks.  No wonder we all feel like financial casualties right about now.

What if our national money energy, our collective soul of manifestation, was focused on helping out those in need, providing jobs, protecting our environment, educating our children?  What if we exhibited our true priorities to the world through the way we spent our money?  What if big government wasn’t the enemy, and what if a government that really mirrored our priorities was in fact the answer?

There is probably not a single economist in the world that would think that is the best fiscal policy.  Perhaps a few generous ones might think it is the right thing to do, but they still would be concerned for the balance sheet.  And yet, I believe it is the most fiscally prudent thing to do.   I believe the bottom line of that policy would be incredible bounty for the entire nation.

But, I can’t prove it.  I can only hope that one day we get it.